Michael Beasley may be heading to the bench in Phoenix

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The Suns are currently riding a five-game losing steak, after coming close but ultimately falling short in a 97-94 loss to the Mavericks on Thursday. And fair or not, the blame for a lot of the team’s struggles, especially offensively, is being placed squarely on the shoulders of Michael Beasley.

Beasley was benched for the fourth quarter of Thursday’s contest, after scoring just nine points on 3-of-12 shooting in 21 minutes of action. It isn’t the first time Beasley hasn’t played when the game matters most, and those fourth quarter benchings have been occurring more frequently, with the man the Suns planned to feature in their offense this season simply not getting the job done on anywhere close to a consistent basis.

Phoenix already abandoned its starting lineup once this young season, trading out two players who on paper were deserving for two who actually would produce. Jared Dudley was replaced by Shannon brown, and Luis Scola was replaced by Markieff Morris. Now, it might be Beasley’s turn to head to the bench until he can figure things out.

From Sarah McLellan of the Arizona Republic:

Forward Michael Beasley was the epitome of the team’s struggles. He shot 3-for-12 and during one stretch missed seven straight shots. Afterward, Gentry said it’s “more than likely” time to move Beasley out of the starting rotation and the switch “could possibly” be as soon as Saturday’s tilt in Los Angeles against the Clippers.

“I don’t know what it is,” Beasley said. “I come in every game optimistic about my play and my shots. It’s just not good right now, and it’s not what anybody’s doing. It’s all me. I’m getting extra shots. I’m getting extra shots on top of extra shots. I’ve just got to be patient. Let the game come to me. Just sort of ride it out.”

The Suns troubles aren’t anywhere close to all Beasley’s fault. Goran Dragic has been up and down running the point, and while the team has tried to feature Beasley and give him the green light as much as possible, a lot of his shot attempts aren’t coming in rhythm, or after he’s been set up cleanly for an open look.

Beasley may find consistency with the second unit; his minutes aren’t likely to drop, and Gentry has always maintained that he’ll go with whoever is getting it done on a given night when crunch time rolls around.